PITTSBURGH —When Chris Carson again lost his grip — and threatened Seattle’s control of the game — the Seahawks put the ball back in the hands of their best player.
And on a day when he threw both blocks and dimes, Russell Wilson also saved the Seahawks from a potentially unfathomable defeat, leading a final drive that allowed Seattle to escape with a 28-26 win over the Steelers here Sunday.
Wilson earlier led three straight scoring drives in the second half that appeared to have Seattle on the verge of a comfortable win, up 28-19 with under six minutes remaining.
But Carson lost a fumble for the second time on the day that gave the Steelers a first down at the 3 and a touchdown a play later, cutting the lead to 28-26 with 5:54 remaining.
Wilson then completed passes for gains of 11, 4 and 7 yards while running twice for gains of 10, 9 and 15 yards to run the time off the clock. And in a typical Pete Carroll move, he brought Carson back on the field for a fourth-and-1 play at the Steelers 33 with two minutes remaining.
The drive capped an almost-perfect day for Wilson, who completed 29 of 35 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns and who again outdueled future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger.
Well, sort of. Roethlisberger played only the first half before leaving with an elbow injury.
Backup Mason Rudolph came on and made some heady plays to keep the Steelers in it. But Seattle’s defense made a key stop that appeared to have the game salted away before Carson’s fumble added some unexpected drama.
The win gave Seattle its first 2-0 start since the Super Bowl season of 2013 and its first win in Pittsburgh since 1999.
And it was also a win that in many ways felt like Seahawks football, with Seattle mostly dominating other than when it wasn’t shooting itself in the foot in the first half.
Seattle outgained the Steelers 426 yards to 261 and had 152 yards rushing.
The Seahawks had mostly themselves to blame for being behind 10-7 at halftime.
Seattle outgained the Steelers 202-103 and moved into Pittsburgh territory on four of six drives.
But Seattle got only one TD out of those yards with penalties moving the Seahawks back on three drives when they had moved past the 50.
Seattle also essentially gifted the Steelers’ their only TD of the half when Carson fumbled the ball away (a Pittsburgh penalty negated a return of the fumble for a touchdown) at the 22 and the Steelers then too advantage of a pass interference penalty on Mychal Kendricks on third down to set up a 1-yard score by James Conner.
The Seahawks drove 75 yards for a TD to tie the game following Conner’s score, getting some help from the Steelers when a personal foul penalty on Daniel McCullers on a field-goal attempt extended the drive. McCullers was called for hitting snapper Tyler Ott.
Seattle scored on the next play on a 14-yard pass from Wilson to Will Dissly.
Roethlisberger was injured at some point during the Steelers’ final drive of the first half.
Rudolph, a second-year player out of Oklahoma State, entered for the first series of the third quarter, which is when the game immediately began to turn Seattle’s way.
Rudolph’s second pass was high and off the hands of Donte Moncrief, bouncing far enough that McDougald was able to dive and catch it at the sidelines at the 40.
The Seahawks needed only six plays to cash in with a 12-yard pass from Wilson to Dissly, his second TD reception of the game to make it 14-10.
But the key play came a snap before, when Nick Vannett took a hard hit but held on to a Wilson pass for a 13-yard gain on third and 10.
On the next drive, Smith-Schuster easily got behind Seattle safety Lano Hill. But the ball hung up just enough for Hill to recover to make the tackle at the 16. Seattle stopped the drive there and the Steelers had to settle for a Chris Boswell field goal that made it 14-13 with 6:21 to play.
Seattle responded with another scoring drive, this time moving 75 yards capped by a 37-yard TD run by Rashaad Penny. The play came on third-and-2 with Penny evading a tackle attempt by Pittsburgh’s Anthony Chickillo at the line and then breaking free over the right side getting an escort from Wilson, who threw blocks on Steelers defensive backs Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds to clear the way.
The Steelers cut the lead to 21-19 with 11:16 left.
But the Steelers went for two and failed when Rudolph found no one open and Hill intercepted his desperation pass.
That decision and Seattle’s stop proved critical when the Seahawks scored on their next drive.
They did so by taking advantage of the league’s new policy of allowing pass interference to be reviewed. Seattle appeared set to have a third-and-20 at its own 27 after a Wilson pass for Lockett deep down the middle was incomplete.
But just as the snap for the next play the challenge flag flew.
This time, Carroll got the win with the officials deciding Edmunds had “materially” interfered with Lockett’s attempt to make the reception.
Wilson the hit Metcalf with a 28-yard TD with 7:15 left that appeared to have the game just about wrapped up.